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Pratibha Patil's profile

Pratibha Patil creates history by becoming the country's first woman president.

delhi Updated: Jul 25, 2007 16:08 IST

Pratibha Patil has created history by becoming the country's first woman president. Despite seeing the harsh side of politics, including an unusually bitter campaign on her way to Rashtrapati Bhavan, she won the presidential polls.

Set to break the male bastion in the presidential palace, the lawyer-turned-politician brings with her a wealth of experience as a politician and an administrator.

The 72-year-old Congress loyalist held several posts in Maharashtra besides being Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and Governor of Rajasthan but her role in the cooperative movement in her home state was at the centre of a controversy in the run-up to the presidential poll.

Patil, who defeated NDA-backed independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat by a comfortable margin, is India's 13th President.

Nearly eight years after her tenure as a Lok Sabha member ended in 1996, Patil, a staunch supporter of the Nehru-Gandhi family, had gone into a virtual political wilderness before she was brought in as Rajasthan's Governor in November 2004.

Born on December 19, 1934 in Jalgaon district, Patil practiced there as a lawyer before joining politics.

She was a member of the Maharashtra assembly from 1962 to 1985, and served as a minister holding portfolios like urban development and housing, education, tourism, parliamentary affairs, public health and social welfare and cultural affairs. She worked her way up from the rank of deputy minister to the cabinet as also in the Congress hierarchy.

Patil also has the experience of being a leader of the opposition when Sharad Pawar, as head of the Purogami Lok Dal, became chief minister of Maharshtra for the first time in July 1979.

Patil's stint in Parliament began in 1985 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha and became its Deputy Chairperson a little over a year later, a post in which she remained from November 18, 1986 to November 5 1988. During this period, she also headed the parliamentary committee on privileges.

She was the Maharashtra Congress chief from 1988 to 1990 before being elected to the Lok Sabha from Amravati in 1991.

Patil, who never lost an election, had gone into virtual political hibernation at the end of her tenure in the Lok Sabha and her only appearance in the political scene of Maharashtra was taking part in the party's campaign in polls. It was in November 2004 that the Congress leadership recalled her to become the Governor of Rajasthan.

Married to Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, an educationist whose family had migrated from Rajasthan's Shekhawati region to Jalgaon a few generations ago, Patil has one daughter, Jyoti Rathore, and a son, Rajendra Singh. Her husband has been a mayor of Amravati. Patil is also associated with several cultural, educational and social welfare organisations.

First Published: Jul 25, 2007 16:06 IST